The intruder who attacked US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband in their San Francisco home was reportedly searching for the Democratic leader, shouting “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?” before assaulting him with a hammer.
Paul Pelosi is understood to have suffered injuries to his head and body in the attack at the couple’s home in the early hours of Friday.
Speaking at press conference later in the day, police named the suspected attacker as 42-year-old David Depape.
The intruder reportedly entered the home with a hammer and - after confronting Mr Pelosi - shouted “where is Nancy?”
That was a chilling echo of the chants during the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, when rioters trying to stop Joe Biden’s election searched menacingly through the halls for the speaker.
Police were sent to the couple’s home shortly before 2.30am local time on Friday, where they witnessed the intruder striking Mr Pelosi with a hammer.
Chief William Scott of San Francisco PD told a press conference held at 10.30am local time (6.30pm in the UK): “When the officers arrived on scene, they encountered an adult male and Mrs Pelosi’s husband, Paul.
“Our officers observed Mr Pelosi and the suspect both holding a hammer. The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it.
“Our officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency back-up, and rendered medical aid.
“The suspect has been identified as 42-year-old David Depape.”
Mr Pelosi and Depape were taken to hospital. Mr Pelosi was said to be receiving “excellent medical care” and was expected to “make a full recovery”.
Mr Scott said the suspect will be charged with offences including attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and burglary.
He added that the motive for the attack “is still being determined”, and that officers are investigating the case with help from the FBI and Capitol Police.
Mrs Pelosi was not in San Francisco at the time of the attack.
Capitol Police, tasked with protecting congressional leaders, said she was with her protective detail in Washington.
“The Speaker and her family are grateful to the first responders and medical professionals involved, and request privacy at this time,” a spokesman for Mrs Pelosi said in a statement.
Mrs Pelosi just returned to Washington this week from a security conference in Europe and is due to keynote an advocacy event Saturday evening with Vice President Kamala Harris.
President Joe Biden and lawmakers from both parties reacted to the assault with shock and expressed their well wishes to the Pelosi family.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “The President is praying for Paul Pelosi and for Speaker Pelosi’s whole family.
“This morning he called Speaker Pelosi to express his support after this horrible attack. He is also very glad that a full recovery is expected. The president continues to condemn all violence, and asks that the family’s desire for privacy be respected.”
While the circumstances of the attack are unclear, the incident raises questions about the safety of members of Congress and their families as threats to lawmakers are at an all-time high, almost two years after the violent Capitol insurrection.
Members of Congress have received additional funding for security at their homes, but some have pushed for more protection as people have showed up at their residences and as members have received increasing amounts of threatening messages.
Often at Nancy Pelosi’s side during formal events in Washington, Mr Pelosi is a wealthy investor who owns and operates Financial Leasing Services, a San Francisco-based real estate and venture capital investment and consulting firm.
He married Ms Pelosi in 1963 and the pair have five children. Ms Pelosi became the 52nd Speaker of the House in 2007.